Senate Bill 182, introduced on January 18 by state Sen. Brian Birdwell would allow concealed handgun license (CHL) holders the option of carrying their handguns onto college campuses, which is currently prohibited under state law.
Alice Tripp, legislative director for the Texas State Rifle Association, said: “The TSRA … strongly support Senator Birdwell and his legislation allowing adult Texas concealed handgun licensees to have this option for personal protection with them in their vehicles, on campus property, and in the classroom. Personal protection is a basic human right.”
Birdwell said that more guns will lead to safer environments (in this case, colleges) and lower crime. This idea has been extremely popular among pro-gun advocates since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School prompted a national debate on guns and safety.
The April 9 stabbing of 14 students at Lone Star College in Cypress, Texas, by student Dylan Quick, revived the argument. State Senator Dan Patrick appeared on Piers Morgan Tonight following the attack and used the incident as evidence that gun-free zones create unsafe environments.
Patrick said if the student with the knife had known that people carrying licensed handguns were present, “he wouldn’t have stabbed …14 people today.” Two students from Lone Star College also appeared on Morgan’s show and echoed Sen. Patrick’s sentiments.
Some Brookhaven College students also agree with Birdwell and his supporters. Caroline Rozek, a gun owner and Brookhaven student studying criminal justice, said she believed that more guns statistically lowers crime. Ashley, a Brookhaven student and CHL holder who asked her last name be withheld, said she would feel safer if she could carry her gun on campus. She said, “Criminals go to places where they know … they cannot be targeted, where nobody has any protection against them.”
But will being surrounded by classmates packing heat really make us safer? Will more guns mean less crime and less violence? Probably not.
According to research by the Harvard Injury Control Research Center on firearm related homicide, with more guns available, there are more homicides. According to The Atlantic, statistically, “firearm deaths are significantly lower in states with stricter gun control legislation.”
States with strong gun legislation, such as New York, Hawaii and California have the lowest gun mortality rates with 2.9-8.0 per 100,000 people, according to an article on the- atlanticcities.com by Richard Florida, senior editor of The Atlantic.
And, as reported in USA Today, a Boston Children’s Hospital study shows that “states with the most [gun control] laws had a mortality rate 42 percent lower than those states with the fewest [gun control] laws. The strong law states’ firearm-related homicide rate was also 40 percent lower.”
While these statistics do not deal specifically with the issue of concealed handgun licenses, they do illustrate the fallacy contained in the idea behind conceal and carry, that more guns equal less crime, violence and death. The fact of the matter, in my opinion, is simple and logical: if you have more guns around, you’re going to have more problems with guns.
Many supporters, such as Sen. Patrick, believe that if average students have CHLs they will be able to defend themselves and their classmates from attacks such as those at a theater in Aurora, Sandy Hook Elementary School, or Lone Star College. That idea is even more ludicrous than the idea that more guns means less crime. Do pro-gun advocates really expect the average, everyday college student to be able to respond adequately in a stressful, high-pressure gunfight with a homicidal maniac?
Writing in the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch in response to the expansion of concealed handguns into bars and restaurants, Jack D’Aurora said: “Police officers undergo fire- fight training and are on the streets every day, dealing with difficult and dangerous people and stressful situations. What makes us think that when faced with the stress and anxiety of a firefight, the untrained citizen will do more good than harm?”
College students can barely manage to juggle sleep, social life and school. Now we have to add weapons training in?
Instead of adding to the already high number of guns in circulation and trusting citizens will stop criminals, why don’t lawmakers focus on taking away guns from individuals who shouldn’t have weapons in the first place and providing law enforcement with the resources they need to apprehend gun law violators?
Common sense gun control, such as universal background checks and extended waiting periods are a good place to start. Giving guns to the good guys isn’t going to make college students or anyone safer. Good guys with guns aren’t the problem, it’s bad guys with guns.